09/20/2012 02:28 pm ET

Colin Cowie Weddings: Bridal Guru Answers Your Wedding Etiquette Questions

HuffPost Weddings has teamed up with Colin Cowie (yep, the bridal guru behind nuptials for everyone from Alyssa Milano to Jennifer Lopez) to bring you sage advice on every aspect of your Big Day.

Each week, Colin will be answering your questions right here on The Huffington Post.

Got something on your mind? Email, tweet it to @HuffPostWedding or ask it on our Facebook wall.

This week, Colin answers your questions about wedding etiquette.

Do you still put all of the parents’ names on the invite, even if some of them are not paying for the wedding? (As a courtesy to the parents who aren't paying so it doesn't look awkward or call them out?)

- Robert, via email

Dear Robert,

There are no rules where it comes to which names are listed on the invitation. If in doubt, take a modern approach and send the invitation from the bride and groom.

FYI: the purpose of the invitation is not to signal who is actually paying for the wedding. For example, if the bride or groom is financially well off and is paying for the entire celebration, the invitations can still come from either the bridal couple or one or both sets of parents.

For even more information on composing your wedding invitation, click here. And to get information on all the essential elements for your wedding invitation, click here.

All my best!

My fiancé and I live together and share a dog, our beloved Labrador, Mooshoo. He plays such an essential role in our relationship that we'd like to somehow include him in our ceremony. What is a playful yet tasteful way to do this?

- Rebecca, via email

Dear Rebecca,

Love the name Mooshoo! Sounds like he has to be part of the festivities! Perhaps he could go down the aisle with your groom with a floral collar. Both men in your life will be at the bottom of the aisle to welcome you!

Just a few things to keep in mind when incorporating Mooshoo into your big day:

1) Choose your venue with Mooshoo in mind. Not everyone loves dogs as much as you do. Many venues only allow service animals, and it's not uncommon for people to be afraid of dogs, particularly large breeds.

The best policy is discussing this up front with vendors. That way you can hire accordingly. Make sure you have someone Mooshoo is comfortable with minding him after the ceremony so you two can enjoy the festivities and your guests, who may be more timid around dogs, are not uncomfortable.

2) Make your dog as comfortable as possible. If you can, have Mooshoo check out the venue before the big day so he becomes familiar with the space.

If you are dressing him up, get any doggy clothing ahead of time so he can get used to it, especially if he doesn't normally dress up. The more familiar your pet is with the details, the better behaved he'll be.

3) Avoid accidents. Feed your dog either in advance or at the end of the night and give him lots of opportunities to do his business before the event. You don't want to step in something unexpected as you make your way down the aisle, and your guests don't want to either!

With that said, here are some other ideas for how to include your pup in the big day. You can be as creative as you want, but typical jobs for both big and small breeds include...

• Flower dog: Your dog can carry a bouquet of flowers or basket of petals in his mouth. Just be sure to avoid flowers toxic to dogs, such as hydrangeas and azaleas. Too hard for Mooshoo? You can always attach a basket to his collar. It's just as adorable.

• Ring bearer: You can find pillows that tie to dog collars, or simply attach the rings to the collar itself with ribbon or some other decorative material. Voilà!

• Bridesmaid or best man: There are many options for dressing all sizes of dogs. Here are a few: Doggie Clothesline, Mrs. Bones and Doggie Designer. (However, we prefer a floral collar -- it's much more chic!)

Good luck!


When should thank you cards be sent for wedding gifts received before the wedding day?

- Natalie, via email

Dear Natalie,

A good rule of thumb is to send your thank you notes two weeks after you receive your gift -- sooner whenever possible. So, if you receive something from a long-distance friend two months before your wedding, you don't have to wait to thank her until after the wedding; you can do it right away.

There's no need to tackle all of your notes in one interminable writing marathon. Make things easy by finding a comfortable space to write and concentrating on only five or six thank-yous a day. Perhaps complete one or two at lunch every day and a few in the evening before bed. Before you know it, you'll have them all written, and you will have been able to focus on making each one fresh and personal. Remember, even if you've thanked someone in person or on the phone, you should still send a hand-written note.

For even more Thank You Note Dos and Don’ts, click here!

Here’s to happy writing!